Since 2008, the top three teams in the Class AA girls’ tennis ranks have rotated between Bozeman High, Great Falls High and Kalispell Glacier.
The Hawks won the AA title in 2008 and have been a top-3 since then, with two second-place trophies (2009, 2011) and a third-place team designation.
In those four AA tournaments, Great Falls has finished second, first, third and second; Glacier has concluded the tournament third, third, first and first.
If two Bozeman seniors - and five others - have anything to say about it, this year the first-place trophy at the State AA tournament will be picked up by a squad of seven Hawks in Missoula and brought back to Bozeman by Saturday night.
"For sure, yeah," senior Cortney Collins said. "That's the goal every season, and we are on our way."
Collins, who spent her first three seasons as a singles player, switched to doubles this season to help the team out. The result, when paired with sophomore Madison Pedersen, was a 12-1 regular-season record and a runner-up finish at the Southern AA divisional last weekend in Helena.
The duo's lone loss was in the divisional championship to teammates Madi Henning and Christine Olivo. That pair carries a 10-2 record into the state tournament and also has the distinction of turning a career singles player (Olivo) into a doubles success.
The junior noted there was a simple reason for moving into a doubles team: Bozeman's track record. The Hawks have placed multiple doubles teams in the state bracket in five of the past six seasons and have had a doubles pairing finish in the top four placements every year since 2006.
Last year, Bozeman's lone doubles pair in the AA bracket, Henning and former Hawk Shannon Bosche, took second.
"It seems like girls on this team have a better chance of going far in state on doubles teams," Olivo said. "There's good competition with both singles and doubles (fields), and we have good singles players, but I wanted to try out doubles and see how far I could get."
Collins moved to a doubles pairing this season to help the team - "a lot of the incoming freshmen and sophomores we have are more singles players " - and didn't think about her school's success in the doubles bracket.
"I guess that really didn't cross my mind," Collins added. "At the beginning of the season, it's like 'I'll do what's best for the team.'"
Head coach Mike Anderson noted all four girls came to him prior to the season and expressed interest in setting up the pairings they are in. Each duo played together over the summer in multiple tournaments, and that's where the interest sparked.
"It's nice when they come to you at the beginning of the season and say 'We want to play doubles, and we want to play with these girls,'" Anderson said.
The Hawks will find out early if they can unseat Glacier: Collins and Pedersen are matched up with the Wolfpack's Amy Snipstead and Kailea Vaudt while Hennin and Olivo face off with Kristyn Haugenoe and Kali Mathison in the opening round this morning.
"There are definitely some new teams from other schools this year that look strong and have put up good showings," Henning said. "It will be interesting to see if we can do it when the pressure is really on."
Junior Renae Ockford (8-0) leads Bozeman's singles contingent, which numbers three players once again, after going 1-2 last year in the singles bracket.
Freshmen Sophie Allen (13-4) and Zoe Lindgren (10-3) substitute in for Collins and Olivo.
"Our goal is to just giving our best effort on the court," Henning said. "If we win state, there's nothing wrong with that."
On the boys’ side, sophomores Robbie Pike (7-4, singles), Oliver Carr and Colton Litle (12-4, doubles) are the Hawks' lone entrants.
Pike went 0-2 at state last season and noted the experience gives him more confidence for this season. He also tends to think of each tournament throughout the season with the same importance, which alleviates nerves.
"Probably for all of us, the goal is to win one match," Pike said. "It's pretty tough competition out there."